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Drugs & Therapy Perspectives

, Volume 23, Issue 9, pp 17–20 | Cite as

An individualised therapeutic strategy is key in the treatment of constipation in patients with cancer

Disease Managemant

Constipation is commonly reported by patients with cancer and can significantly diminish their health-related quality of life. Treatment initially focuses on the detection and management of potentially reversible causes of constipation. Oral laxatives may then be tried and, if these are unsuccessful, rectal enemas or suppositories are recommended.

Constipation common with cancer

Patients with cancer have a higher prevalence of constipation than the general population (40% vs 2–28%).[1,2] In addition, the impact of constipation is often greater in patients with cancer and can significantly alter their health-related quality of life.[3]

Symptoms of constipation range from a sensation of abdominal fullness, distension and discomfort through to anorexia, nausea and vomiting.[3] Overflow incontinence and rectal discharge, resulting from an increased production of mucous, can also occur as a result of constipation and may initially be misdiagnosed as diarrhoea.

Aetiology is usually...

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